The Solidarity Index

The Heart is an Instrument – with Huda Asfour

September 14, 2023 Solidarity Index Season 1 Episode 6
The Solidarity Index
The Heart is an Instrument – with Huda Asfour
Show Notes Transcript

"I am fascinated by the interconnections… how certain frequencies can alter your reality really, can put you in another state, can actually allow you to breathe."

Welcome to Episode 6 of The Solidarity Index – with our final guest of the season! Join host Zahyr Lauren aka The Artist L.Haz as they talk with musician, educator, and engineer Huda Asfour about origins and exile… frequencies and improvisation… and the incredible instrument that is the heart.

Huda has been studying and creating music all her life all over the world, from Tunis to Palestine to DC to Egypt to Brooklyn – with stops in Italy, China, and countless coordinates along the way. She pushes the boundaries of tradition and innovation with multilayered reflections on the human experience – creating film scores, multimedia performances, arts festivals, and curricula for conducted improvisation (her current focus).

Keep up with Huda on Instagram: @hudasmusic

• PLACES: Tripoli, Akka, Basra, Beirut, Tunis, Gaza, Ramallah, DC, Cairo, Alexandria, Brooklyn
• EVENTS: The 1948 Nakba. The 1st Intifada (1987–1993). The 2nd Intifada (2000–2005) and siege of Ramallah (2002). Israeli bombing of Beirut (2006). Jenin massacres (2002, 2023). DC Palestinian Film and Arts Festival (2016).
• MUSIC REFERENCED: Khaled Jubran. Hedi Jouini. Anthony Coleman. John Zorn. Valentina Ciniglio. Cairo Improv Orchestra. Brooklyn Improv Orchestra.
• HUDA’S FEATURED MUSIC: Kouni, Yalli, Mataron – from the 2018 album Kouni . Sama’i, Al Yasamine – from the 2011 album Mars  ج​ا​ي و​ر​ا​ي​ح​ة
• HUDA'S PUBLICATIONS in Biomedical Engineering can be found here.


Tune in to THE SOLIDARITY INDEX on your favorite podcast platform, and keep up with us on Instagram. Sign up for The Solidarity Index newsletter to receive new episodes direct to your inbox.

THE SOLIDARITY INDEX podcast is produced by State of Mind Media
Hosted by Zahyr Lauren aka The Artist L.Haz
Created and produced by Jen Bell, Shalva Wise, Stina Hamlin, and Zahyr Lauren Audio editing and production by Stina Hamlin
Audio mix by Matt Gundy
Logo and identity design by Marwan Kaabour
Art direction, website and additional design by Jen Bell at Studio Analogy

Until Everybody Is Free by Bella Cuts – featuring the voice of Maya Angelou
Released on Common Groove (2023)
All proceeds from download and streaming go to the Dr. Maya Angelou Foundation


The Heart is an Instrument – with Huda Asfour


[Waves surging then crashing]

HUDA [00:07]
I am fascinated by the interconnections, how certain frequencies can alter your your reality really, can put you in another state, can actually allow you to breathe.

[MUSIC]  Until Everybody Is Free by Bella Cuts – featuring the voice of Maya Angelou [00:38]
The truth is, no one of us can be free until everybody is free. No one of us can be free - until everybody is free. Free... Free.

ZAHYR [00:57]
Welcome to The Solidarity Index, a gathering place for trailblazing artists from around the world, where we share experiences of solidarity and liberation through creative practice, and welcome each other into freedom struggles from Palestine to Brooklyn to Berlin and beyond. Zahyr Lauren here, aka the Artist L.Haz, honored to be in conversation today with our final guest of Season 1: award-winning musician, educator and engineer Huda Asfour. From Tunis to Gaza to Italy to the US, Huda has been studying and creating music all her life, all over the world - pushing the boundaries of tradition and innovation with multi-layered reflections on the human experience. Thanks for joining as we talk origins and exile... frequencies and improvisation... and the incredible instrument that is the heart.

HUDA [02:05]
Zahyr, hi.

ZAHYR [02:06]
It's an honor to just be talking to you. I'm a big fan.

HUDA [02:10]
Oh, thank you. I was looking at your art earlier - also really beautiful work.

ZAHYR [02:15]
You are our last guest on The Solidarity Index for our first season. So thank you so much for your willingness to do this.

HUDA [02:24]
I am so, so honored and grateful to be on this season, really.

ZAHYR [02:29]
I've heard two of your albums. Those two albums have influenced what I'm working on right now so much. [HUDA: Oh wow] I just appreciate the offering.

HUDA [02:40]
I am very touched. Really. It reinforces a lot of why we do this work.

ZAHYR [02:44]
Yes, yes... Brilliant, brilliant work that really touches my core a lot. So I just wanted to say that. [WAVE SURGING] I'm Zahyr, I'm the host of The Solidarity Index. My pronouns are they/them. I identify as a gender expansive human being. I'm currently wearing what sometimes people call my Malcolm X glasses. I've got on a black sweater. Caramel complected, I would say. I am currently living on Duwamish land in what is called by a lot of people Seattle, Washington. I will stop there and let you go.

HUDA [03:20]
Wow. Okay.

ZAHYR [03:25]
No pressure. No pressure. Say whatever you want. It's all good!

HUDA [03:30]
Uh - I'm Huda Asfour, born to Palestinian parents. I grew up all around. I feel a sense of fluidity in in where my identity lands really in all aspects. And I am currently in Brooklyn, settled finally in this place I'm newly calling home. Yeah, I don't know... I'm a real wanderer and a geek, really. This is how I feel in this current state.

ZAHYR [04:00]
Wanderer and a geek is an incredible combination. So thank you for that. I was reading a little bit about your backstory, and I'm a mama's boy, a mama's kid, if you could say it. And moms and their influence - particularly for those of us who are blessed enough to have strong, powerful, wonderful moms, because not everybody has that - it can really set you up to pursue community, to pursue your own greatness, to pursue a lot of different things. So I was wondering, can you say a little bit about your mom, where she's from and how her vision for you to become a musician has kind of helped you shape your life?

HUDA [04:43]
My mom was a very strong figure and she really created an environment for me to explore who I really was and what I wanted to do without many limitations. My mother was born in Tripoli, Lebanon, but really grew up in Iraq. Her father and her mother moved to to Iraq in 1948, so right after the Nakba, they had to leave at the time. They come from Akka, which is in the northern side of Palestine historically, and they moved to Gaza for work purposes. My grandfather was working there at the time of the Nakba, and then they moved to Lebanon and and then to Basra, actually first in Iraq. And my mom basically left Iraq when she was 27. And the Palestinian identity is definitely the generator of everything, I think, in the experience. But she grew up also in an artistic house where everyone was into music. I discovered through my grandfather's book, actually, he comes from a family where a lot of people played oud. The music is an important part of my upbringing. It is in in really it was part of everything in our life.

[MUSIC] Sama’i  by Huda Asfour [06:11]

HUDA [06:41]
My mom is also sort of an encyclopedia of music, in a sense. I always joke about that. Like as far as Arabic repertoire, classical repertoire, she was always interested in knowing who the composers were, who wrote the lyrics. So it was it was - there was always that sort of awareness in my mind about what makes the music, not just the the main singer, you know, like there was - there's like a whole like team behind that. That came at an early age. And then both my parents sort of met in a political context. My mom left Iraq to to join the movement, the Palestinian movement in Lebanon. And that's where I was born. Of course, that played a huge role in my understanding of social justice and community work and even really thinking early on about different models of existence beyond the current systems. Capacity to be critical, to be fluid for for my gender expression to be, you know, even though not very accepted, but okay somehow. So many things. I mean she's she's been - she's been a force, and a lot of modeling in not only for her but all the strong women around her that really influenced me growing up.

ZAHYR [08:05]
Beautiful. Thank you for sharing that. Those are powerful shoulders to stand on. I'm wondering for you, since you are involved in so many ways in biomedical engineering and music and you see the heart as an instrument, which I thought was so, so beautiful... I'm wondering, what do you find are the commonalities between the vibrations and the waves of the heart and those of the music you create?

HUDA [08:38]
It is as simple as that. Like it is all about frequencies and waves. Like this whole universe for me is about energy and energy exchange. And in that sense, all of these things are related. The more we understand about the effects of frequencies on the human body, on our understanding, on our consciousness, on our capacity to silence our brains - like all all these beautiful tools that we're given. My exploration of the heart really came at a very serendipitous circumstances. I was coding in a lab for my summer internship and I saw a heart. It was a rat heart, and it was beating with like just glucose and like, you know, some salts - for hours, hours, hours. And I was just a fresh graduate, you know, an electrical engineer, and completely, you know, fascinated by waves. So signal processing, I wanted to understand like music, my project was about detecting beats using machines, which turns out to be like a very intricate process. And all of a sudden I discover that there's so much electricity in in the body and particularly in the heart and a completely different system of electricity, right? So absolutely nothing to do with what I had studied. So I really became fascinated. And then what the lab used to study basically is the - they, we had the capacity to stain the heart in a way - I'm going to I'm going to get into like some technical stuff.

ZAHYR [10:21]
Get into it! I'm fascinated. You see how hard I'm staring at you? Please get into it. Okay. Stained heart.

HUDA [10:28]
So we stain the hearts with dyes that are basically sensitive to the voltage on the surface of the heart. And as the voltage changes, you see a difference in fluorescence. So if you actually record these things, you can play back a movie that would show you how the waves actually propagate on the heart. And then you can also see the chaos that happens when you have arrhythmias, when the heart stops working the way it should, which is a very intricate pump that basically gets a signal every few milliseconds and then fires up to squeeze that muscle to pump all that blood. Of course, I was absolutely fascinated by this. I tend to do things with my heart, and that's how the journey started. I am fascinated by the interconnections, how certain frequencies can alter your your reality really, like can put you in another state, can actually allow you to breathe. And when you breathe like - magical things happen, right?

ZAHYR [11:35]
Yeah. Something that you said just now - that I feel like as you're saying, is kind of a microcosm of the world - is, you said that in these studies of the heart and the frequencies, chaos, the chaos that ensues when the heart stops working as it should, when it stops beating as it should... I feel like that's low key like - that's life. I mean, it's literally life or death, right? If the heart stops working. But like - if we stop communing with one another as we should and community dies, the chaos that ensues from that. I really appreciate you sharing that. That's brilliant.

HUDA [12:16]
I'm romanticizing this, right? I mean, the process of science is beautiful. The system of science in the US is really brutal and it sucks like all the beauty out of the process. So but just like, you know, so I'm not completely romanticizing, just a nuance. Sorry to cut you off, but I needed to add that.

ZAHYR [12:37]
I think you have to romanticize some of these systems to get them to be connected to life, because in the romanticizing you like bring them to life. Had you not explained it the way that you had - first of all, I don't know if I would have even understood. So I appreciate your poetry and explaining this systemic process, so thank you for that. But in terms of vibrations... I noticed that when you play the instrument and I want to say the 'oud,’ ‘oud'?

HUDA [13:05]
It's oud, oud, oud.

ZAHYR [13:07]
When I've seen you play it, it's very much against your body. And I'm interested in that. That vibration of the instrument right up against you. What does that feel like?

HUDA [13:20]
Absolutely. One of the things I love most about playing this instrument, the oud is a different kind of existence because those vibrations, sometimes I feel them in my jaw, like, and it's like - it's a resonance that really speaks to to to every part of me. The low frequencies in this instrument also are really special. I really love that bassy, bassy sound of the instrument.

[MUSIC] Mataron by Huda Asfour [13:48]

ZAHYR [14:30]
Sometimes when I'm watching you, I see the instrument kind of - a certain note will, like, take your body with it. It's like all emotion together. It's really dope.

HUDA [14:41]
I love this instrument. Truly. Yeah.

ZAHYR [14:44]
Word. I was listening to 'Mars Back and Forth' and kind of reading how part of that was dreaming into a world without borders. And you've already kind of discussed some of your family's journey and relationship to what you're saying about your mom. So I wanted to kind of explicitly ask about your experience with borders and using instruments as a tool to kind of heal some of the experiences you've had being forced across borders in your life.

HUDA [15:21]
Yeah, music was a was a really huge outlet for me in the in the early years of the Intifada in 96. We moved from Tunis to Gaza, and in in Gaza I really reconnected with the homeland for the first time, and with my father's side of the family. And I have to say it wasn't really the easiest transition in terms of culture because of the religious aspects of the things which were completely oblivious to me. I was actually like very interested in in Islamic philosophy at the time, but I didn't really see things the way other people saw it in terms of practice. So that was a really like big shift in my spiritual being for years. But the beauty of the sea, the connections to Tunis, for me, even having that continuum in my life was important. I think the beauty of Gaza gets completely... lost. And I feel very grateful that I got to live there for a couple of years to really understand what makes that place so, so special. Also, as challenging as the reality was then and is 100% much more challenging now, there is something that makes it like a very, very special Mediterranean city. And for me, that's always something that I wish people can think more about as far as Gaza is concerned. It really was that part that kind of like created a continuum in my imagination. Also, the connection with the Mediterranean was an important part of healing, maybe a little bit of the trauma of, of the, the different, uh uprootings that happened in my life.

HUDA [17:29]
Having that definitely made a difference. The oud in Gaza saved me. It was sort of my tool to go around and do things. I did - I mean, I was 15 or 14/15 at the time and just, you know, going around and playing in places, doing workshops, and how like there was like a children's theater that I used to also like go and play there. And also it was my first time recording in a studio - that was in Gaza, for example... I recorded a song for a kite festival. Everything really I know about performance in in the beginnings, Gaza was a very, very important chapter for me. Not only that, but I also during the the DC Palestinian Film and Arts Festival, the the year in 2016, the focus was Gaza. And we tried - we created this portal where people can go and basically find someone else on the other side of the portal and raise to talk to, to get to ask questions. We had few bands play live or streamed streamed live basically from Gaza in DC. I always was interested in showcasing the - what happens on the ground. I feel like it always gets overshadowed by everything else that happens that is much more urgent and painful and uh, outraging. But I think that part of the resilience is the fact that people are still able to create beauty on the ground.

[MUSIC] Yalli  by Huda Asfour [19:12]

HUDA [20:11]
And then in 98 we moved to Ramallah, and those were golden years for me. Golden years in the sense that I was within a music environment that was so rich and so creative and expansive. There were no limits to what you could do with tradition. So I started thinking outside the box, and I really owe that to my mentor, Khaled Jubran. He basically opened my eyes to new ways of thinking about music, of understanding musicality away from the technical side, you know. It wasn't about how quickly you play the instrument, but it was more about what you actually say with the instrument. And he was basically the person who really encouraged me to be a storyteller in a sense. I was a freshman in college in 2000 when the Intifada started in Ramallah, and that's where really, like, Mars started the conceptualizing, I think not not as musical work, but really as a reflective work. That was the beginning of my journaling about the siege in Ramallah and really reflecting about the absurdity of realities that people could live. And it was a very isolating time. The siege was... I don't know. Like the anger I felt at the time was absolutely immense, immense, immense. It's like it's it's it's an anger that also makes you so rigid and unable to really empathize in the world. In a sense, it really kills that that side. You just don't have access to that side of you. And Mars was sort of the revisiting of that in 2006 when Beirut was being basically bombed by the Israeli forces. There was like so much anger that resurfaced from the 2000. I was already in the US. I was in D.C. with a lot of mixed feelings. It wasn't a place that I ever felt like I wanted to be here, like in the US, that was not really part of my imagination. Truly, I ended up here by coincidence and leap of faith in a sense. Mars was that reflection on the war, on the exile, on the constant movement and sort of a place where I really try to breathe and remember my humanity after many years of anger.

ZAHYR [22:55]
On 'Mars' there is a song called Jasmine, and I say a song... I feel like it's such an understatement because you're talking about how this is really reflective work. It's not just music, but it's a reflection of the time and the story. And so in that reflection of Jasmine, what is the journey that you're taking us on?

HUDA [23:19]
Jasmine was the, for me, the mixture of love and anger and the disconnect in realities, the reality of the war and what people perceive of the war. It was a cry, for me, for people to hear sort of the pain that exists with war, but also to remember that we are still human and we can feel the full spectrum of emotion and that love would hopefully still be the dominant feeling. I wrote this after the Jenin massacre, 20 years later here we are - also another massacre in Jenin. At the time, I really could not believe that the world would be so silent. It was very difficult at that moment. Things things were hard. But Jenin was like a moment that broke me, really. So in that sense it was sort of the place where Jasmine started, from that kind of break and remembering it many, many years later. Reflecting on that pain in in it surfacing in different ways. So I think I think Jasmine still seems to be my journey in sort of reconciling with with with the pains of the war and the guilt of surviving it and being on the other end now watching on a screen what's happening on the ground.

[MUSIC] Al Yasamine  by Huda Asfour [24:42]

ZAHYR [25:21]
Wow. I want to share with you what I felt when I listened to the song. First of all, I had to close my eyes playing that song, and I played it over and over again. And it felt so beautiful to me. But what was in my gut was fear. And there's like this, this kind of haunting I felt in your voice and it felt painful. And then when the strings kind of start to whisper in the middle and it goes into this different scenery and, you know, for me, I can't understand any of the words because I'm not blessed to speak the language, yet. So I'm just energetically kind of engaging with the music. And so I really appreciate you sharing that pain, because in sharing it, you know, there's a part of when we share our trauma, there's a part of us that is reliving it. So I don't take it for granted that you answer that question and share those moments and share those feelings of isolation and anger and what it feels like for the world to be silent. And this is for me as a Black person, part of why I feel a solidarity with Palestinian people in particular, because there is so much silence around the brutality that a people faces. And there are moments for me where I kind of want to just really be screaming into the wind because it is very much when you're living it, you want to be like, Yo you don't see what's happening here? Like people are - where is the outrage in the chaos that is created when the heart stops its beating? Because these are literally hearts that are stopping their beating because of the war, because of the killing, because of the brutality. And so, again, I just don't take it for granted, so I appreciate you sharing. I know I can't possibly feel everything that you put into that music, but I want you to know I felt it.

HUDA [27:31]
That means a lot to me. I mean, for me, that story was so important to tell. I really think that people and not just because of the Palestinian struggle - I really view Palestine as an iconic, like, you know, case of a really like systemic issue that we are living through. Everyone, everywhere has those issues. It's not just about Palestine. And I think it is so important for us to connect in that and to try to explain to people sometimes who really don't have that experience and can't possibly imagine it, what it could feel like to be in that position. It's a blessing to be able to reflect on that because a lot of people are still living it. So there's no room to actually, like, reflect on that trauma.

ZAHYR [28:15]
Right. Absolutely. I want to also pronounce the next album correctly. Is it 'Kouni'?

HUDA [28:23]
It's Kouni. [Z: Kouni] Kouni, which means 'be.' And it's the feminine. So it's sort of like to tell someone to be.

ZAHYR [28:32]
There's a song on Kouni called 'Under the Jasmine' that feels different, but are they connected?

HUDA [28:39]
They're not connected in a in a direct sense, but they are connected in my love for jasmine and what jasmine represents for me as as someone who grew up in Tunis, and as a scent that I really identify with with my childhood. It's really something related to beauty. 'Under The Jasmine' is a retake on a Tunisian song by Hedi Jouini, who lived in the 50s/60s in Tunis. I grew up listening to this song as a as a child and I really loved it, but I was always surprised by the lack of drama compared to the lyrics. The lyrics are very, very dramatic and the music seemed a little bit, you know, like sort of repetitive in a sense for me. And I had this idea of turning it a little bit into more of a dramatic interpretation of what I feel the lyrics express in terms of emotions. I think Kouni generally was sort of like me trying to play with these new elements, both in the jazz and the classical realm, and try to see, you know, how I can play with these textures a little bit and sort of what kind of sonic sonic environment I can create, translating the emotions. The original title of the album was Mosaic Identity, actually, and it was my attempt at basically collaging my bits and pieces of identity into something that I can feel whole in.

ZAHYR [30:10]

HUDA [30:11]
So that was the beginning of my self-love journey, if you wish, and sort of being being able to live sort of in in my in my own skin comfortably be me like do the things that I'm actually comfortable with and what I actually envision.

[MUSIC] Kouni  by Huda Asfour [30:32]

ZAHYR [31:08]
I feel like the self-love journey is a lifelong [HUDA: For sure] scenario.

HUDA [31:16]
I think we all have that moment where we realize where things are are not connected.

ZAHYR [31:25]
Oh, absolutely. Yeah, yeah, for sure. Like the kick off moment where you're like, Oh, I should focus on really trying to bloom as my full self... Definitely.

HUDA [31:38]
Or at least be comfortable in it.

ZAHYR [31:40]
Or at least be comfortable. And you know, I think this is another thing that is or can be difficult to do, at least in my experience, when you have so many external inputs that can be violent towards your identity. It takes a different level of courage to step into that. And if it's - you know, I'm not saying just physical violence, but I think sometimes there can be an atmospheric violence towards who we are that kind of puts this heavy blanket over us trying to stretch our wings.

HUDA [32:17]
I agree totally. I think the most valuable lesson for me was coming out of all that anger towards everything that was clashing with who I wanted to be comfortably. I had to learn to be vulnerable, to be actually me. For me, I think it was the most courageous journey - is to really learn how to be extremely vulnerable and not be afraid of that. Um, I don't know that I'm there yet, but it's definitely where I would like to be.

ZAHYR [32:48]
Yeah, I can agree. I identify with that. And do you feel like in that journey of vulnerability, you're finding more of your tribe?

HUDA [01:32:58]
Yes, for sure. I mean, there's much more openness. And in that openness I think there is much more room for for reception and acceptance and internal peace.

ZAHYR [33:11]
It ain't easy, but we out here. We out here trying. [HUDA: Yeah] Right on. As you kind of create this mosaic and put those bits and pieces together, I'm like really interested to know how that relates to improv - conducted improvisation. You've been engaged in Egypt and you are bringing a lot of this to Brooklyn. And so I'm wondering how those things are related, like putting those pieces of ourselves together and improv.

HUDA [33:43]
You know, I think maybe the biggest link would be deep listening. I released Kouni and I really was ready to sort of quit the lab work. And then I started teaching for another year as an adjunct. I learned so much about the lack of curiosity in the academic system, about the way it's become sort of focused on things that are really, for me, not essential for the learning process at all. And I felt like I was ready to do something else. I was thinking about other ways to sort of give back. And then I met Anthony Coleman, who came to DC and gave a workshop about John Zorn's Cobra, which is a form of conducted improv. In that moment I had like this...thing that happened in my head. I'm like, This is it. This is it. This is my purpose. Of course, being the geek I am, I just like started, you know, trying to learn as much as I can about the traditions of conducted improv, different improvisation disciplines. And then last year, I had the great pleasure of meeting Valentina Ciniglio, and she is part of an orchestra that does conducted improv in Napoli. It's a communal project. There are no leaders, so everyone can be a conductor and everyone can just choose to just play. And there's so much beauty in that sort of exchange.

ZAHYR [35:13]

HUDA [35:14]
And I was fascinated by the model. We ran two workshops, one in Cairo and one in Alexandria. The Cairo one has now birthed the Cairo Improv Orchestra. I'm watching them from afar grow, and I feel so proud, really, to see them do this. [Z: Wow] We just started the Brooklyn Improv Orchestra. I'm really looking forward to see what Brooklyn is is going to bring in this experience.

[MUSIC] Brooklyn Improv Orchestra live premiere show [35:40]

HUDA [36:41] The improvisation has really changed so much and opened so many spaces for me in finding other partners and creating a different kind of music experience. I needed that to heal myself. I needed to stop worrying about the score and the perfectionism of what I think music should sound like. Grateful and a huge advocate for incorporating improvisation in in day to day, really, not just as a music practice.

[MUSIC] Brooklyn Improv Orchestra live premiere show [37:09]

ZAHYR [37:34]
Essentially it is about deep listening to self and also listening and responsiveness to folks around you. And for me, that is the foundation of an ethos of solidarity. I'm wondering how you would talk about what solidarity is to you and how your practice and music and improv is connected.

HUDA [38:02]
Solidarity for me is definitely what you're saying. For sure there is - it starts there. You have to listen first. You have to listen. And listen for the sake of listening. Sometimes I think we all get into that space where we really want to respond. Say something. Solidarity is also about really opening up a place of empathy and and really being curious about the other. A lot of these discussions I hear these days - if we're not on the same page, then we shouldn't be talking. And for me, it's really dangerous. This polarization is really dangerous and there's something that really needs to be dealt with in terms of the capacity to really ask questions, to try to understand. And maybe a little bit more, you know, capacity to see beyond our own struggles and issues and what we want to advocate for immediately and to look at the interconnectedness of all of these things. And maybe the last part for me is about working together to create alternative systems, because I don't have any hope in changing this one. So I just want to create other spaces that actually...implement the visions that we all have and that we are all shared in, instead of battling against something that is really, really difficult to change, honestly.

ZAHYR [39:37]
That really resonates with me a lot because that's basically all of the artwork I create is, for me, remembering of what is and what has passed. And mapping on top of that and envisioning of a future where we all are in unison, and operating with this belief that we are all deserving of health and happiness and liberty and freedom and all of these things. But it is part of my healing to create that on a continual basis because without the folks who are creating what we want to see, then I think we're just all bashing our heads against the same brick wall because there are no doors. We've created no entries to different worlds. So I think that is the most important work is to create and invite and offer other folks a way in. And to me, again, it seems like that's what, from your assessments of improv and improv orchestra, that's what it's doing. It's allowing people to create. It is opening doors. It's an invitation for others to join as they listen and do their own deep reflection. It's a way for folks to put in their views and visions simultaneously. And to me, that's got to be such a powerful feeling. You know, when you end a session like that of everyone coming together.

HUDA [41:21]
I hope that it inspires people to really explore their musicality in a different way and to really give room to their thoughts within, to express them freely without thinking about what other people will think or what will happen. And this is what I'm really trying to create - I'm hoping to create - with the community that we're building together. This space for people to come and really be able to freely and very respectfully express their thoughts and share this experience with everyone.

ZAHYR [41:55]
Yes. Yes. Wow. That's freedom. That's freedom. Right on. Oh, man... well, this has been huge for me. You have inspired me. And I just want to thank you so much for your vulnerability, your openness, your invitation to get more free and your leadership.

HUDA [42:17]
Oh, thank you so much. I'm really touched and this has been such a beautiful conversation, so I'm very, very, very honored to be on this podcast and to be in conversation with you. I am really, really touched and I really, really thank you.

[MUSIC]  Until Everybody Is Free by Bella Cuts – featuring the voice of Maya Angelou [42:33]
Free, free, free, free.

ZAHYR [42:37]
Wow. Thank you, Huda. Your wisdom and your beautiful life breathing music - we thank you for it all. You model the power in vulnerability, and I'm so grateful for that. Y'all head to to check out her extensive work and follow her on Instagram @HudasMusic.

Also, check out our show notes for information on the people and topics we touched on in this episode. Thank you for listening to The Solidarity Index. If you like it - please share it. And follow us wherever you catch your podcasts.

This podcast is a production of State of Mind Media, created and produced by Jen Bell, Shalva Wise, Stina Hamlin, and me - Zahyr Lauren. Audio Editing and Production by Stina Hamlin. Audio Mix by Matt Gundy. Logo and Identity Design by Marwan Kaabour. Art Direction, Website, and additional Design by Jen Bell at Studio Analogy.

Our theme song - Until Everybody Is Free, by Bella Cuts - is out everywhere you listen to music. All proceeds from streaming and downloads go to the Dr. Maya Angelou Foundation.

Other music in this episode is from two of Huda's albums: Kouni and Mars Back and Forth.

I'm your host, Zahyr Lauren, aka the artist L.Haz. You can follow us on Instagram @TheSolidarityIndex and anywhere you find podcasts. For more information, head to our website at Preciate you all for listening... Peace.

[MUSIC]  Until Everybody Is Free by Bella Cuts – featuring the voice of Maya Angelou [44:17] 
The truth is, no one of us can be free until everyone is free. No one of us can be free until everybody is free.

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